We’re now about one-third of the way through the Major League Baseball season, and the contenders are starting to separate themselves from the pretenders. Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout are definitely part of the contenders group. In fact, they’re more than just contenders as these two are on pace for incredible seasons yet again.
Cabrera is quite possibly proving himself to be the best hitter in baseball while Trout, who’s just 21 years old, displays an exceptional all-around game. So it’s no surprise that these guys are early season American League MVP candidates once again
When looking at Cabrera and Trout from an overall perspective – with hitting and fielding taken into account – about the only thing separating them is their teams’ success. Cabrera’s Tigers are sitting atop the AL Central with a 29-20 record while Trout’s Angels have fallen into third in the AL West with a 23-28 mark.
Despite the obvious differences in their teams’ records, neither of these guys are showing signs of slowing down any time soon. Here’s a quick look at what they’ve done so far.
The reigning AL MVP is on pace for an even better season this time around. Last year, he hit .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBI’s. In the 2013 campaign, he’s hitting .377 with 14 homers and 57 RBI’s through just 49 games. If things keep up like this, it’s not inconceivable to think that the 30-year-old could challenge Hack Wilson’s single season record of 191 RBI’s.
As of now, Cabrera only needs a couple of homers to put himself in a position to take the triple crown. Don’t bet against him getting the triple crown either because Cabrera is excellent at making adjustments for different pitchers and takes advantage of any errantly-thrown fastball.
Perhaps Trout described Cabrera best when he said, “Just his approach – hitting fastballs the other way, turning on off-speed and especially his approach on two strikes. You make one bad pitch, and he is going to hit it. It’s his consistency. He punishes mistakes. I’ll get a pitch to hit and just pull off a little bit. He doesn’t miss.”
At an age when many top prospects are graduating from AA to AAA, Mike Trout is playing with the Major League elite. He’s hit .304 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI’s through 51 games. And while this may not scream MVP, it’s what Trout does from an all-around perspective that separates him from the pack.
The 21-year-old has scored 41 runs, stolen 12 bases and routinely makes highlight-reel plays in center field. The latter could even earn Trout a Gold Glove this season – something that many felt he deserved in the 2012 campaign.
When it comes to the all-important Wins Above Replacement (WAR) stat, Trout ranks sixth in the MLB, which is just four spots away from second place Cabrera. That said, the third-year pro is invaluable to his team – a fact which sometimes goes unnoticed with the Angels’ struggles.
There’s still over 110 games left in the season, so it’ll be interesting to see how Trout and Cabrera fare within the next few months. Cabrera looks to have an inside track to his second straight MVP award. But if Los Angeles can improve in the win-loss department, look for Trout to make a strong bid for the AL MVP award too.